Expectation vs Reality: How To Find Beauty In Process
If I want to talk about business, I need to be comfortable talking about my own business. Like, ALL about it.
I actually talk about my own business all the time online, but I focus on all the fun and colorful parts like sharing my finished designs, revealing my inspirations, and showcasing cool projects I'm involved in. What I don't share much about are the nitty gritty and non-glamorous details that inevitably come along with the territory. Details like crunching numbers, staying organized, and pulling late-nighters doing meticulous handwork.
It took me a long time to realize why I was avoiding sharing certain realities of my practice and, as stupid as it sounds, this was it: They didn't fit in with my preconceived notion of what running a successful business looked like.
We all have these notions. Mine looks something like this:
I bike to my sunny work studio 5 days a week where myself and a small team spend our afternoons sketching, patterning, filling orders, and handling cash flow ...which is done on a series of really shiny Apple desktops. Several local sustainable factories handle our production. A talented photographer drops in once a week to create content images in our mini photo studio with those big rolls of rainbow backdrop paper. Our taxes are always paid on time. We probably have a colorful wall and a trendy neon sign. I'm probably wearing a really chic pastel pant suit...
This may be how business looks on instagram but it's about as filtered as the last selfie I posted. My real business today and right now looks something like this:
I work from home in my pajamas. I don't have a team and I do literally everything myself and balancing it all is often a gigantic challenge. I'm usually behind on my emails. I'm ALWAYS behind on my taxes. I spend a lot of time in and out of fabric stores on 38th st. I spend even more time updating social media. I spend the MOST time sitting at my sewing machine sewing the same thing over and over and over again. I binge watch a LOT of Netflix while completing several days worth of machine embroidery Lipstick Pins, hand stitching Glitter Bows together, and dip dyeing Rose Berets on my kitchen stove in this big huge pot that is too large to fit into my cabinet so it lives under my dining table. I spend hours packing up orders and taping on labels and I make a lot of post office runs. When I need new images I set my camera timer and go into modeling mode, and afterward I spend more hours on the couch or at a cafe editing photos. With the cost of living in NYC I balance all this with a day job and I still live below my means much of the time. ...I do however have a neon sign and a lot of colorful walls and some rad suits!
If you've ever written to me and asked me "how I got my start", this might make it easier to understand what I mean when I say I'm still getting started. I may not be exactly where I want to be, but this doesn't make my small business any less valid. I have customers all over the world from a business I grew in my old bedroom with my home sewing machine and my iPhone. Pursuing your dreams doesn't take magic, it just takes moving forward with the tools you have. I no longer want to adhere to the "fake it till you make it" mentality– I'd rather make it by getting real about this moment right here.
Learn to love and accept your crazy, stressful, messy, and totally imperfect current situation until you have nothing but pride in what you've created– it's all yours after all!
Here's what I mean– I think what keeps a lot of us from reaching our biggest goals is the idea that we're not doing it "right" from the get go. We don't want to take a plunge until we feel everything has fallen into place, but as you've probably heard before– if you wait for the right time, you'll be waiting forever. Learn to love and accept your crazy, stressful, messy, and totally imperfect current situation until you have nothing but pride in what you've created– it's all yours after all! It may be 75% stressful, chaotic, and totally not "aesthetic", but I run my dream business from my living room right now and so can you.
That said, my lofty notion of what running a successful business looks like in a perfect world doesn't need to be my downfall either. When I dissect it, it's just a colorful daydream made up of a lot of small and totally realistic goals. If I want a team of cool employees, I can set a goal of hiring some. If I want to manufacture locally, I can do the research to make this happen. If I want that shiny desktop computer, then I better call upon a shiny piggybank to rent my desk real estate in the meantime. I'm actually so excited to talk more openly about these dreams of mine. Manifesting isn't a total myth– making your big goals a hot topic is a first step toward making them a reality.
I want you to take a good hard look at your own goals. Are you where you want to be? Maybe you're just starting on a new journey, or maybe you've been at a thing for years like me but know deep down that you have so much further to climb. Where ever you are, realize that you at this moment are exactly where you need to be. Not only that, but know that there is beauty and truth in your process, struggles, stresses, and small triumphs. Great work takes time and that time is made of many small acts of change. You wont get where you want to go overnight, but what's one small step you can take today toward your big dream?
I'm endlessly moving forward and so are you! Here's to our bumper car past and to the rollercoaster journey ahead.